After four Zoom terms on Russian music, one apiece on Czech and Hungarian, then homing in on great symphonists Sibelius, Vaughan Williams and Nielsen, it's time for the Big One: Mahler, starting this summer (tomorrow - Thursday 20, to be precise) with the first half, Symphonies 1-5, Das klagende Lied and the songs, then continuing in September with 6-10 and Das Lied von der Erde.
Not that Nielsen has any less status in my eyes, now that I've spent 10 weeks with the great but modest Dane. His essential robustness kept me buoyant, along with the sheer joy and richesse of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, through those not-too-awful five weeks of radio- and chemotherapy.
As well as getting to know underrated piano masterpieces like the Chaconne and Theme with Variations, my admiration for Nielsen's consistently original but ever more extraordinary symphonic journey has gone through the roof. The second movement of the Fifth, unquestionably one of the 20th century's greatest symphonies, has long been my favourite finale, infinitely rich, but the continuation of the journey in the opening movement of the Sixth, so misleadingly (jokily?) named Sinfonia Semplice, takes us one step further. Passages from it were running through my head for weeks. Lucky that we have this superb performance from Paavo Järvi with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra on YouTube.
It seems beyond doubt, to me at least, that Nielsen's recent heart attack fed into the weirdnesses and frenzies here, no less than Mahler's arrythmia informs the peaks and troughs in the first movement of his Ninth Symphony. But I love equally the way Nielsen takes apart the machinery in the rest of the Sixth, making sure never to lose sight of the first movement's essence.
So there will be plenty to connect Nielsen and Mahler, even if the timeframes of their works are different. I must say that, still in the thick of Nielsenmania, I found it hard to adjust to the scale of Mahler's Third live at the Festival Hall with the Philharmonia - another Paavo performance, which might have been even more revelatory with one of his regular orchestras. But enough time has elapsed to return to Mahler's own very specific world - even though I'm lucky enough to be returning to Denmark, following the amazing time I had celebrating Nielsen's 150th anniversary, to hear performances of Hymnus Amoris (such an opportunity) and the Second Symphony, as well as to look at the new Carl Nielsen Museum in Odense.
Here are the full details (click to enlarge) for the coming Mahler term - still time to sign up if you're interested. And you can get the videos if you can't attend on the day.